MISCUES DOOM FOOTBALL IN ONE-POINT LOSS TO NORTHERN ARIZONA
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Two turnovers inside the 10-yard line and two blocked point after touchdowns crushed the Sacramento State football team in a 27-26 loss to Northern Arizona, Saturday night at Hornet Stadium.
The loss dropped the Hornets to 3-5 overall and 2-4 in the Big Sky Conference. Northern Arizona improved to the same record.
"We made too many mistakes to win a football game at this level," Sacramento State head coach Marshall Sperbeck said. "We beat ourselves with turnovers, penalties and missed opportunities."
The teams traded leads for most of the game and the Lumberjacks surged ahead, 27-20, behind a 1-yard touchdown from Zach Bauman with 8:50 left in the fourth quarter.
The Hornets responded with an eight-play, 73-yard drive which was capped by a 1-yard run from Bryan Hilliard to pull within one with 4:53 left in the game. Freshman Jason Diniz came on for the extra point but his kick was blocked by Dan Pela to keep NAU on top.
The Hornet defense was unable to get a stop during the final drive of the game. The Lumberjacks converted a 3rd-and-6 early in the series and then were aided by a holding call in the secondary on 3rd-and-7 which gave the team an automatic first down three plays later. Quarterback Cary Grossart sealed the victory with a successful sneak on 4th-and-1 with less than a minute to play.
Sacramento State took a quick lead behind a 49-yard interception return from Kyle Monson. The senior tipped the pass to himself and the returned down the sideline for his second career interception return for a score.
After a 17-yard NAU punt gave the Hornets the ball inside Lumberjack territory, Sacramento State marched to the 10-yard and faced 4th-and-1. Senior Stephen Tezanos-Pinto was stripped by Anders Battle and the ball was recovered by Taylor Malefant who returned it 31 yards.
That miscue immediately turned into points when Bauman dashed 44 yards for a touchdown as part of his career day.
The score remained knotted at 7-7 until freshman Garrett Safron threw a well-executed screen pass to Sam McCowan to a 13-yard touchdown. The passing TD was the first for Safron while the receiving score was a first for McCowan.
A 28-yard field goal from Matt Myers pulled NAU closer before Grossart connected with Khalil Paden for a 24-yard touchdown down the middle of the field.
Sophomore Tommy Edwards followed with a 39-yard pass to freshman DeAndre Carter and later hit tight end Reese Heaslet for 14 yards to take the ball to the 3-yard line with 10 seconds left in the half. However, the drive ended when Edwards was intercepted in the end zone by Mike Dosen.
The Hornets retook the lead midway through the third quarter when Reed caught a 24-yard pass from Safron and managed to stay in bounds along the right sideline. The lead stayed at 20-17, however, after Diniz's extra point was blocked by Blayne Anderson.
Myers converted a 31-yard field goal to tie the score with 3:48 left in the third period.
Bauman was the offensive star for NAU as the sophomore rushed for a career high 246 yards on 38 carries. Grossart finished 16-of-31 for 167 yards and a touchdown.
Reed caught seven passes for 140 yards and a touchdown to lead Sacramento State. Edwards was 10-of-24 for 129 and Safron was 5-of-7 for 130 yards and two TDs.
The Hornet rushing game, which pounded Eastern Washington for 310 yards a week ago, was held to just 53 yards on 24 carries on Saturday.
Sacramento State will play its final road game of the season when it travels to Portland State for a Big Sky matchup on Saturday, Nov. 5.
NOTES: Reed recorded his fifth 100-yard game of his career and second this season…the last time the Hornets returned an interception for a touchdown came when Monson went 68 yards at Idaho Stat eon Nov. 13, 2010…Safron was the team's leading rusher for the second straight week but had just 19 yards against NAU…Bauman became the second player to rush for 200-yards against the Hornets this season joining Oregon State's Malcolm Agnew (223)…true freshman Smith Heath served as the team's punter for the first time and finished with five punts with an average of 37.2 and long of 41 yards…John Hnedershott had five kick returns for 170 yards (34.0 yards per return).